Michael Hanus

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1st_photoHi Mike, I’m so happy to have the chance to talk to you! I watched your comedy Jackhammer. It has a talented cast with cameos from people like Pamela Anderson and Peter Shinkoda!

1. This is your first time directing and producing a feature length movie. It looks like you really enjoyed working on this project! How did you get into the film industry?

I always wanted to be part of film and acting as a kid but never had the courage or time.

2. It can be a challenging career, how did you finally make the decision?

IMG_0607I finally decided to get into it in my late twenties after listening to some motivational tapes. I started going to acting classes and after a few auditions I landed a role on Smallville the TV show. Nothing big but I was excited. This auditioning went on for a couple of years with lots of ”no’s” and some yesses. I then started working in real estate selling houses and made lots of good sales / money earned. I decided to make my own movie since I would never get the chance to show off my real skills if i had to wait for someone else to say ”yes you are good Mike ”

3. It sounds like you gained some experience learning about the film industry while on set working these small roles. What was the next step for you?

IMG_0610 I then wrote Jackhammer in 2009 and decided to do it myself. We started filming on weekends with shitty equipment. After a few weeks I had to fire the director because I saw that my vision was not the same for comedy and the characters. I then took on the role of directing which was hard since I knew NOTHING about making movies.

I taught myself and surrounded myself with people that did. Our whole movie crew was people volunteering. We went out and got sponsors for food and locations. This grew and grew and grew into a production that had better equipment and better help. I used my real estate skills and business skills on the phone as a producer to get more things and better things. I knew we had something special so I went all out and didn’t stop. We shot scenes several times and got more money to hire hollywood actors as cameos.

In the end our crews were huge with Hollywood equipment like remote control helicopters and multi-camera shoots. Its been a dream come true and a bit surreal.

4. How did you cast for this movie? You guys seem like great friends and act very naturally together. If you didn’t know about making movies, how did you put together a production like Jackhammer?

IMG_0605Our movie was done completely backwards. I cast the movie with local actors but went through a long process to get talent that I knew could handle doing an amazing job.

Once we had most of the movie filmed we started reaching out to some of our favorite actors. It wasn’t easy but once we had Robb Wells from the Trailer Park Boys it started the ball rolling. Robb was a huge help in creating a film filled with great cameos. Nicole Sullivan came next, then Jamie Kennedy and then Pamela Anderson agreed to do it especially since she is from the Island (Victoria BC) where I was living at the time and we were filming most of the movie.

5. All these people put so much effort into it, how did you get the word out?

IMG_0613I then saw that the distributors would not put any money into the advertising so we carved out certain rights to promote the film ourselves and use a platform called reelhouse.org that had technology to give analytics on who was bringing online traffic to our rentals. We started talking to famous Youtubers and online personalities to promote Jackhammer and share money with us from the traffic they brought to the film. This worked so-so. People are not wanting to spend money online especially for a new website service like reelhouse.org.

6. What did you do to promote your film further?

IMG_0603We ended up with some great companies to help us distribute so our movie is available everywhere around the world for basic rentals. For example iTunes, T.V. on Demand/pay per view/ Google Play / Amazon / Hulu / Voodoo / Comcast / Xbox / Playstation and more. We are working to keep the dream alive by getting this movie out there and then we will continue with the series which we are hoping will be enjoyed by people around the world. We are doing a crowdsource campaign to raise money for the series that started in March 2015.

7. That’s really cool that you want to continue with Jackhammer as a series. You had so much talent involved with the film, who will be involved with the series?

IMG_0602We will be creating a product that allows fans to be part of making decisions and even writing. Something new and interactive.

What differences do you see between American, Canadian and Japanese comedies?

I see that there are a lot of similarities between Canadian, Japanese and American comedies although the language and some slight cultural differences some times make a joke non-understandable in a different country. Certain words we used in the film were not understandable in the U.S so we had to figure out techniques to fixing those problems. I love Japanese comedies. Especially the game shows. I hope that the Japanese audience enjoys and laughs at what we laughed and worked so hard on for close to 4 years.

8. Can you talk about some of the comedies you enjoy watching? What films came to mind when you were writing Jackhammer? How about some of your favorite roles in the comedy genre? Some actors you respect?

IMG_0635I love Will Ferrel and Ben Stiller. I thought of Zoolander and brought some of Tropic Thunder in it. My character Jackhammer is a mix of Robert Downey Junior’s character in Tropic Thunder and some Will Ferrel with Hulk Hogan… hahaha. The original script was actually quite different from the final product. There was a whole different middle which was re-written to put in our actors.

I loved the dancing, I thought it was pretty funny! Was there a dancing coach? I laughed through every scene, step by step! I loved every scene in Jackhammer and I loved every detail. I loved the dialogue between Hammer and Christy(Guy Christy) when they are talking about Hammer’s work on the sofa.

IMG_0606Yes, there was a dancing coach. Guy Christie and Myself went and worked with a choreographer in Vancouver and learned some steps. Thank you for the kind words about enjoying the scenes and the dialogue between Jackhammer and Julius. We re-shot that scene twice to make it better visually and funnier with new added jokes including the special effects and flashback.

There are a lot of cut out scenes and funny moments since the movie was running too long. For people that enjoy the film they should go to reelhouse.org/feature and watch some behind the scenes especially the TEAM COMMENTARY.

9. What an amazing beautiful build-up body Mike! Can you talk about the training you did for the movie? How were you built before you started working on the film?

IMG_0627I wanted Jackhammer to be fit and tanned to match his egotistical persona. I trained and dieted hard before every shoot which was definitely difficult especially since the dieting would make me tired and grumpy haha. and I had to work and produce the shoots while working on re-writes with my team of writers. This move was a very very big task.

10. Which scenes did you personally love in the movie?

IMG_0626I love the party scene because of the scenery but the most fun for me was the flashback where Jackhammer is fighting with Peter Chao in the CG scene with all the fire with my love interest in the film – SAMANTHA

11.  The movie seemed difficult to make and it looks as though you used situations from your real life. Is this true? The cast and crew have a strong sense of camaraderie. The cast and crew who surround you seem to be the the same people you have around you in your personal life.

Yes our cast and crew became like family. Silvana Azurdia who plays Samantha is my wife in real life. We have been married for 10 years this year and have been in love since we met when we were around 16 years old!!!! I am 38 years old now. Time is going so fast. Wow.

top_page_photoGuy Christie, Jason Burkart and the rest of the team definitely did become like family because we spent almost 4 years making this film. We re-shot some scenes up to 5 times because I kept wanting to make it better or we got a famous Hollywood name attached so we needed to include them in the scene.This journey has been amazing. Having a group of friends to do something like this with is priceless. The memories will last my whole life. I can’t wait to do more and work with new friends all over the world.

12. I’m curious to know how you were able to cast Pamela Anderson, a fellow Canadian.

IMG_0625Pamela Anderson was an amazing addition. My producer Mckinley Hlady had suggested we approach her but I did not think this would be possible. We spoke to her agent and he advised she does not work for less then 100,000 dollars. We did not have this.

We sent her some scenes and one day she contacted my producer and said that she is in town and would like to help us. We filmed the next day which was so incredibly big for us. Entertainment Tonight Canada flew in from Vancouver to see her and did a nice spot for us on their show. This helped us huge.

As with everything else in the film, the music was great!

The music has a very 1980’s American feel to it. We worked with amazing composers and record owners such as Michael Glover from Rosso Corsa records and Italian composer Emanuel Frusi. They worked extremely hard to make everything feel perfect.

13. How did you end up making a movie about stripping? Do you have experience in this field?

IMG_0633Okay fine. I will tell you the truth. hahaha. I have not told anyone this but YES. I did strip for a very short time when I was in my early 20’s. It was a fun job and thought it would be great to make fun of since its so ridiculous. Women are crazy in those clubs. They would scream and throw money at the dancers like they were Rockstars. lol.

I then made fun of many things about that business in the film.

I hope everyone keeps this a secret. hahaha

14. I would love to see your movie shown in Japan! I think the Japanese audience will love your film! Is there anything they can do to help bring Jackhammer to Japan?

IMG_0619I can have the film in Japan on-line and DVD but would have to get subtitles first. I could hire a student or someone that can do this. I would love to show it in Japan. We could do a small theatrical run if people want it.

15. You’ve learned a lot from your work on Jackhammer. Have you finally found that career you dreamed about as a kid? What are your plans for the future?

IMG_0604I will myself continue to make films outside of Jackhammer but need to survive financially until I make that a concrete shift. Meaning making money to pay my bills from movies 🙂

15. I heard that Keanu Reeves attended your award party in LA last year. Was he invited or was it by chance that he happened to be in the hotel?

Keanu was a completely lucky thing. He was in town working on another project and was nice enough to be part of what we did there. He such an amazing and nice person.

16. I would like to know if you have any message for the readers including to the fans of Jackhammer and to those people who have not see this film yet?

IMG_0618My message is that anything is possible in this world if you work at getting yourself to a place where work can create your own journey to creating your dreams. I love making movies and being an actor but did not want to wait for someone to say “he is perfect and lets make him a lead role or a star” I worked and taught myself what it takes to make a film and what it takes to make it marketable (for example putting stars in your movie).

The film is available at reelhouse.org/feature but it does not have subtitles in Japanese. Maybe if someone reads this and wants to help with the subtitles they can contact me through you.

17. Thank you very much for cooperating with me for this interview, Mike. I am looking forward to watching your films in Tokyo!

IMG_0616Thank you so very much for doing this interview and doing such an amazing job at it. I love what you are doing and can’t wait to meet you in person one day. We have been talking for a long time now over Facebook and email and I knew from the first day that you had something amazing in you.

Its because of great people like you that we get to have a new connection with fans that might enjoy the work we are working so hard on.

I love all my fans and want to give them more of what they want.



Screen Shot 2015-04-10 at 12.26.38 AM

edited by Anthony Heller

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